Gary Neville is convinced Jose Mourinho will evolve Manchester United’s style of play next season.
United have been heavily criticised for their defence approach in the big games this season and Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal meant they have not scored away from home against any of the top six teams, which has severely damaged their chances of any Domestic silverware, according to Online betting platform M88.
Jamie Carragher labelled it “embarrassing” and they are the only Premier League team to fail to do so, but Neville has sympathy for Mourinho and believes over time he will adopt a more attacking philosophy.
“… in 12 months’ time I would expect Manchester United’s midfield to be further forward in big games. The difference is 15 yards further forward in the wide players,” said Neville on Monday Night Football in an exchange with Carragher.
“Manchester United have the largest chequebook in the world at the moment in terms of fees. Jose Mourinho has been unbelievable in the transfer market over the years, you’ve got to accept that.
“They got £45m back for Schneiderlin and Depay and maybe if De Gea leaves it will be £60m or £70m so he’s going to have £200m to spend. He has only signed four players in one transfer window, I think give him one transfer window and if he is still playing a back six in all those games next season I will be sat here saying it isn’t right.
“At the moment if they win two trophies this season and get to next season with four or five more signings and are still playing that way I would have a question. They have to entertain at Manchester United, but at the moment you can forgive it because he doesn’t have full confidence in his squad.”
Neville accepts their fifth place in the Premier League is not good enough, but says once Mourinho has his own players on board then it will be the right time to judge him.
“At the moment he has found a formula that’s getting him through big games, but this season has not been an acceptable one in the Premier League by any stretch. I agree with Jamie in a certain sense that when he’s got an inferior team to the opposition he will try and nullify completely,” added Neville.
“What I would say is there’s a variation on a theme there. If you take United [against Arsenal] there’s no doubt they were a back six with Mkhitaryan and Mata – and for me that has to be adapted, moving forward. In his best teams, Mourinho has never been as defensive as that.
“He’s only signed four players for Manchester United. Once he’s signed eight or 10 and is a year further forward I would be asking a question if he was playing a back six in all these big away games.
“Historically, this is an absolute freak for Jose Mourinho. He’s always been second or first in terms of goalscoring and he’s always been second or first in goalscoring against the top six.
“This season is the freak – and is probably the worst-performing team he has managed in the last 10 or 15 years.”